The pH Dependence of Niclosamide Solubility, Dissolution, and Morphology: Motivation for Potentially Universal Mucin-Penetrating Nasal and Throat Sprays for COVID19, its Variants and other Viral Infections.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, prophylactic-nasal and early-treatment throat-sprays could help prevent infection and reduce viral load. Niclosamide has the potential to treat a broad-range of viral infections if local bioavailability is optimized as mucin-penetrating solutions that can reach the underlying epithelial cells.


pH-dependence of supernatant concentrations and dissolution rates of niclosamide were measured in buffered solutions by UV/Vis-spectroscopy for niclosamide from different suppliers (AK Sci and Sigma), as precipitated material, and as cosolvates. Data was compared to predictions from Henderson-Hasselbalch and precipitation-pH models. Optical-microscopy was used to observe the morphologies of original, converted and precipitated niclosamide.


Niclosamide from the two suppliers had different polymorphs resulting in different dissolution behavior. Supernatant concentrations of the "AKSci-polymorph" increased with increasing pH, from 2.53μM at pH 3.66 to 300μM at pH 9.2, reaching 703μM at pH 9.63. However, the "Sigma-polymorph" equilibrated to much lower final supernatant concentrations, reflective of more stable polymorphs at each pH. Similarly, when precipitated from supersaturated solution, or as cosolvates, niclosamide also equilibrated to lower final supernatant concentrations. Polymorph equilibration though was avoided by using a solvent-exchange technique to make the solutions.


Given niclosamide's activity as a host cell modulator, optimized niclosamide solutions could represent universal prophylactic nasal and early treatment throat sprays against COVID19, its more contagious variants, and other respiratory viral infections. They are the simplest and potentially most effective formulations from both an efficacy standpoint as well as manufacturing and distribution, (no cold chain). They now just need testing.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Needham, D

Published Date

  • January 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 115 - 141

PubMed ID

  • 34962625

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8713544

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-904X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0724-8741

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11095-021-03112-x


  • eng